California’s primary broadband infrastructure subsidy program – the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) – ends 2020 with a dwindling account balance and many unanswered questions about how that money will be spent. Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a $7.6 million grant to Race Communications for a fiber to the premise (FTTP) project in Williams, in Colusa County, and a $3.7 million grant to the Plumas Sierra electric cooperative for a project, also FTTP, in Lassen and Sierra counties.… More
The fight over California’s broadband future resumed in Sacramento on Monday, with the battle line unchanged from August’s stalemate. As expected, senator Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles) introduced senate bill 4, which sunsets the current, anaemic California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) program, and replaces it with a more robust broadband bond program aimed at local agencies. It reflects the compromise between Gonzalez, her fellow senators and the governor’s office in the closing days of the 2020 legislative session.… More
Broadband infrastructure and financing reform will be one of the first policy initiatives out of the gate when bills start dropping at the California capitol on Monday. Senator Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles) will introduce a measure that picks up where the effort to pass senate bill 1130 left off in September. Gonzalez and her fellow senators reached an agreement with governor Gavin Newsom on how California should subsidise broadband infrastructure and what minimum service levels should be, but SB 1130 died when assembly leaders killed it, as AT&T and cable companies pay them to do.… More
Updated 10:01 a.m.
New rules for the California Public Utilities Commission’s proposed contribution – aka “kicker” – to the federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) were published this morning.
Changes include an offer of “up to 30%” of the Federal Communications Commission’s ten year “reserve price” for “all RDOF census block groups”, with a guarantee that 10% of the FCC reserve price will be available to Internet service providers that win subsidies for census block groups that are on the previously published list of particularly disadvantaged communities.… More
In an email sent late on Friday, the acting executive director of the California Public Utilities Commission, Rachel Peterson, said most broadband subsidy decisions will be delayed to as late as 31 March 2021, including a proposal to top up bids for federal broadband dollars with money from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).
If it happens at all. She said the “kicker” intended to incentivise bidders for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) will “possibly combine state and federal funding” to “secure broadband deployment for more California residents”.… More
Hope is dead that bidders for federal broadband money in the ongoing Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction would have certainty or, perhaps, even a clue regarding the California Public Utilities Commission’s supplemental subsidy plan before the auction ends. That means that the incentive value of California’s money is zero for most, if not all, Internet service providers in the reverse auction that’ll determine which communities and states divvy up $16 billion earmarked by the Federal Communications Commission for rural broadband service upgrades.… More
The California Public Utilities Commission took another run at the numbers and the conclusion is the same: 69,000 low income Californian households live in places where the only wireline telecommunications company is Frontier Communications, which is their sole source for wired broadband service only if Frontier considers it profitable enough to offer it in the first place.
Internet service providers that win federal subsidies in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction for particular census block groups (CBGs) may be eligible for at least $73 million in supplemental subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund. And maybe twice that much.
Yesterday, the California Public Utilities Commission defined – at least to a useful extent – how much money will be offered as an incentive for ISPs to bid aggressively for RDOF money in Californian CBGs where the digital divide is the widest.… More
Update 28 October 2020: The CPUC published a new list of targeted census block groups (CBGs), and clarified its proposed plan to offer additional subsidies to ISPs that successfully bid for RDOF subsidies in those CBGs. The list is here. The updated info about the money is here. The short version is that if the plan is approved by commissioners in December, then the CPUC will offer an amount equal to 10% of the ten year “reserve price” set by the FCC for each CBG – a total of $73 million from CASF – to ISPs that meet the CPUC’s Level 1 service requirements and other qualifications.… More
There’s about $194 million left for broadband infrastructure upgrades in the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). That’s less than half of pending grant requests, even before possible “kickers” for Internet service providers bidding for federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) subsidies are factored in.
It might not be even that much. My estimate includes an optimistic allowance for the cost of running the program, which has increased over time and will likely continue to grow.… More